During the 1950s, a British aircraft 1 company, A.V. Roe, designed and built fighter planes in suburban Toronto. In 1958 their new fighter, the Avro CF 105 Arrow, passed its test flights with flying colours.
The Arrow was the most 2 technologically advanced jet of its day, capable of reaching speeds of almost 2500 km per hour. It was designed to overtake and destroy any Soviet warplanes that might enter Canadian airspace. More than $300 million had been spent on its development, much of it by the Canadian government.
But less than a year later, Prime 3 Minister Diefenbaker announced the cancellation of the Avro Arrow project. He told the press that missiles rather than enemy aircraft had become the main security threat to Canada. He also pointed out that the United States refused to purchase the Arrow, instead favouring their F-101 Voodoo fighters.
Nearly 14 000 engineers and plant 4 workers at A.V. Roe lost their jobs. Many of the firm’s top scientists and engineers left for the United States, where they became leaders in American space programs.
Most Canadians heard only part of the 5 story. What the prime minister didn’t say was that the Avro Arrow had become too expensive. Originally, the planes were expected to sell for about $2 million each. But by the time development costs were added up, six Voodoo fighters could be purchased for the $12 million price tag of just one Arrow!
In fact, after cancelling the Arrow, 6 Diefenbaker’s government turned around and bought the cheaper Voodoos for the Royal Canadian Air Force. This had been recommended by the Chiefs of Staff Committee of Canada’s armed forces. They were alarmed that the rising costs of the Arrow would take up a large part of Canada’s entire military budget.
The plans were destroyed and all the 7 planes were scrapped. Some bits and pieces from an Avro Arrow are displayed at the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa. Otherwise, there’s almost nothing left of these airplanes.
Lou McPherson, who worked at Avro, 8 described how he felt when he was ordered to but up the planes:
“It just broke me up to do it. I hated 9
the idea of cutting up this dream we
all had. But we had to do it,” said
the now-retired welder.
“We just started cutting. When I 10 dropped the nose off with the arc welder, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said I just caused $1 million damage. It was like a bad dream.”
Canadian Press/Belleville Intelligencer, “Search to Begin for Avro Arrow Models
,” Windsor Star, 10 August 1998 as adapted in “Making History: Canada Since World War I.”